Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 Movies You May Have Missed

The year comes to an end this evening and right now Hollywood is pushing many of their prestige films in the run up to the industry’s various award ceremonies. Sounds of Cinema will feature its own countdown of the best and worst films of the past year in a forthcoming episode. But for now, here is a look at some of the underappreciated titles of 2018.

American Animals
This mix of documentary and drama was the true story of a heist gone bad. The mix of dramatic recreation and documentary testimonials opens new perspectives on the events and to limits of each genre.

Blockers was the tale of a group of high school girls who make a pact to lose their virginity on prom night and how their parents try to stop them. The film is a fun mix of raunchy comedy and good hearted drama.

One of several Black Lives Matter movies released in 2018, Blindspotting was the story of an African American felon (Daveed Diggs) with days to go on his probation when he witnesses a police officer shoot an unarmed citizen. Despite its wobbly ending, Blindspotting was a complex portrait of personal and cultural identity.

Border is a wonderfully weird Swedish fantasy picture. It’s best viewed cold but fantasy fans who are looking for something beyond superheroes should seek it out.

A novel zombie film starring Martin Freeman, Cargo takes the genre in new directions and offers emotional resonance that’s unusual for a horror film.

2018 has been the year of the political film but while everyone is talking about Vice and Blackkklansman one of the best and most provocative political releases of the year was Chappaquiddick, a drama about US Senator Ted Kennedy’s infamous 1969 car accident that killed Mary Jo Kopechne. It has a complexity and intelligence that exceeds many of the other political films of 2018.

Lean on Pete
One of several “boy and his animal” movies of 2018, Lean on Pete is a terrific character piece about a teenage runaway. The story consistently takes the audience in unexpected directions.

The HBO drama was the latest collaboration between filmmaker Barry Levinson and actor Al Pacino. The film dramatizes the end of Joe Paterno’s career as Penn State’s football coach following revelations of child abuse by his former assistant coach.

Searching took the cross-platform found-footage genre to the next level in a gripping tale of a lost teenager.

A Simple Favor
Paul Feig’s adaptation of Darcey Bell’s novel was a stylish and fun mystery. Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively were terrific together.

Loosely based on a true story, Tag was a comedy of middle aged men who continue a childhood tradition. Although parts of it are calculated (and a few jokes are miscalculated) the film has an enjoyable sweetness and it's a refreshingly good-hearted take on masculinity.

Upgrade isn’t exactly original. The movie repurposes a lot of familiar sci-fi tropes but it does so in a way that is fun and fresh.

Widows was well received by critics but it was underseen by audiences. The film was an exciting thriller with some great performances. It’s the kind of film that would have been an Oscar contender a few decades ago, before the Academy Awards became preoccupied with political statements.

You Were Never Really Here
Lynne Ramsay’s latest work isn’t what you might call a “feel-good movie” but it is a relentlessly bleak thriller about a hired gun (Joaquin Phoenix) who earns his living tracking down missing and kidnaped children.